Usually, at around 3-4 months of age, your baby will start teething and putting everything in the mouth. Given the amount of time a baby spends doing this, it is imperative to have eco-friendly, organic objects to chew on. So, when offering teethers, look for ones that don’t leach toxic, harmful chemicals into your baby’s mouth.
From my research I discovered that best organic / eco-friendly teethers were made from either rubber, wood, organic cotton or food grade silicone. As there is no way of knowing in advance which one your baby will prefer, consider getting a handful for your baby to chose from. Also, different textures work best at different times of the teething process, so your baby might have a few favorite teethers.
WHICH TEETHING TOYS SHOULD YOU AVOID?
- Any toy containing BPA, PVC/Plastic, Nylon or Polyester. BPA messes with hormones and the others are also linked to various health concerns, especially when used over long periods of time. So do your research before buying anything.
- Old wooden toys or painted toys may contain lead. Cheap wooden teethers can have splinters. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer.
- Teething biscuits can be a chocking hazard. If they are not organic and contain gluten, that can cause a myriad of gut issues as well.
WHY SHOULD YOU AVOID BPA-Free PLASTIC TOYS AND TEETHERS?
There are over a dozen different Bisphenols and BPA stands for only one type (Bisphenol A). So, if a product says “BPA-Free,” it’s just a marketing technique. What it really means is that the product uses another plastic instead. And since plastic uses petroleum, it can leach chemical.
RUBBER, WOOD OR ORGANIC COTTON – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
- Natural rubber is similar to plastic in its flexibility, but unlike plastic, it is biodegradable. It is, however, important to check that the rubber is natural. Otherwise it might still contain petroleum.
- Sometimes babies need something harder to chomp, so untreated wood is the best option.
- Organic cotton is versatile. It’s easy to wash and the toy designs are more interesting/visually stimulating. It can also be tied to make a harder part for the baby to chew on. When looking at cotton toys make sure the stuffing is also natural/organic.
- Silicone is soft and can be recycled.
Try some of these home remedies before buying a teether:
- Freeze an organic washcloth in a ziploc bag. Babies like the sensation of cold on their aching gums. The washcloth also provides an interesting texture for the baby to explore.
- After 6 months of age, when food is introduced, you can try offering raw fennel or celery. It worked really well for us for a few months. However, keep in mind, that all food must be given under adult supervision as it can be a chocking hazard.
- Wooden spatula or spoon – but only if it’s made from well sanded, untreated wood.
If none of these work, or you need safe on-the-go options, below is the list of the best ones out there.
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- Sophie the Giraffe – This is a smaller version of a classic French toy from 1960’s made from natural rubber of the Hevea tree. It has a particular scent which makes it so popular with babies. At first I thought that a giraffe with two rings was very odd, but babies just love them and so did Adèle. It is small enough for tiny hands to grab and has a textured surface which babies find interesting. This teether is also hygienic and extremely easy to clean as it doesn’t have any holes (so no mould can form inside and dirt and bacteria can’t accumulate easily). When Adèle lost hers after a few months of use, we got her the original Sophie the Giraffe instead. The larger one has two advantages over the smaller one, however. It squeaks so thus appealing to all five senses. My only wish is that it didn’t have a hole into which water can enter. But if it didn’t, then there would be no sound so it’s a trade-off. Either way, you cannot go wrong with one or the either. Or, if you can’t decide, get both as they can be purchased as a set.
- Hevea Panda Teether – Another teether made from sustainably produced natural rubber, Hevea Panda Teether is free of harmful chemicals mentioned above. For its protection, this teether is covered with a fine layer of vegetable oil, but you can rinse it off with boiling water. The surface of this teether is textured and it is small enough for babies to hold. Like the above-mentioned Sophie, this teeter is also made of one piece of rubber, so no water can enter inside it.
- CaaOcho Rubber Teether – Made from a piece of certified non-toxic natural rubber, this hygienic teether has two types of textures for the baby to explore.
Montessori Organic Wood Toy Bag – This is an excellent set inspired by Montessori philosophy. Adèle didn’t like all the wooden teethers in it (the ring was her favorite), but it is a good buy if you want your baby to have a variety of teethers to test. As I mentioned above, it is difficult to know which one the baby will like, so getting as set is an easy way to test more than one. This particular set is made from chemical free natural wood and is polished with an organic wood polish. The wooden peg dolls can be used by older children for imaginary, Waldorf-inspired play. Adèle made gnomes out of hers. ;)
- Maple Teether – This teether is unfinished and sanded smooth. For extra protection, you can cover it with organic olive oil after the baby is 6+ months old.
- Manhattan Toy Skwish – This rattle/teether/grasping toy is made from sustainable wood and finished with a water-based, non-toxic finish. Adèle didn’t play with it much, but it does look original as a decoration.
Organic Cotton Teether – This elephant teether is made from 100% organic, untreated cotton. It doesn’t use any dyes, but is more expensive than a lot of the other teething toys.
- Organic Frenchy Fox Teething Rattle – Another organic teether, this one is filled with sustainable, hypoallergenic corn fiber. Made by Apple Park Organic Toys, this fox is just one of their many teething toys. I find it very cute, but they also make an adorable moose, cow and sheep among other things.
- Momma Goose Organic Cotton Teether – This teether has a double advantage as it is made from two of our favourite materials – organic terrycloth and natural maple wood. A perfect Waldorf-style toy as it is very simple and non-representational.
- Little Toader Teething Broccoli – Made from food grade silicone and dyed with food safe colouring, this broccoli-shaped teether can be washed in a dishwasher. They also come in other food shapes like nopainapple and carrots.
- 5 Teething Keys – This is a set so it comes with 5 silicone teethers with various shapes and textures. They come with a 100% money back guarantee, so it’s a safe buy.
- Freezer Safe Teether Set – If your baby needs something cold to chomp on, this set of 5 is also safe to use as all the teethers are made from silicone. Like the above-mentioned set, they come with different textures and shapes.
Do you have a favorite safe teether which is not on my list? If so, please let me know so that I can add it.